Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Stuck in Neutral: A young woman ponders which road to take in Open Stage’s “The Mad Ones”

Samantha Brown sits in the driver’s seat of her friend’s old car, about to embark on the rest of her life, but she can’t seem to get out of the driveway.

This is not only literally how Open Stage’s musical production of “The Mad Ones,” directed by Stuart Landon, opens, but it also symbolizes the journey for its protagonist quite succinctly. The production boasts a beautiful run of songs and a phenomenal design team, with Nicholas Werner as musical director, MO Geiger as set designer, Tristan Stasiulis as lighting designer, and Jack Weitzel as costume designer.

Written by Kait Kerrigan and Bree Lowdermilk, “The Mad Ones” gets its name from Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” (“The only people for me are the mad ones”), a book that Sam adores. The rest of the titular quote is explored throughout the play, as are themes such as love, fear and grief, all through the eyes of an anxious, straight-A student whose best friend has just died.

That best friend is Kelly. She’s the type of haphazard, party-it-up girl to shout, “Left or right?!” while driving on a road in heavy traffic and swerve at the last second, according to which direction Sam might call out. In a sad twist of irony, she has died from being struck by a car on her way home from the library. The resulting story is one that Sam tells in layers, past and present flowing interchangeably, filtering her memories through the lenses of what was, what could’ve been, and what might be.

Carly Lafferty plays Sam, and her three co-stars—Maggie Haynes as Kelly, Nik Olson as her boyfriend, Adam, and Rachel Landon as her overbearing mother, Beverly—give a breakdown of the conundrum that Sam has found herself in, at a loss for what to do with her life now that her favorite person is gone.

Lafferty, who plays Sam, describes herself as that same quirky, straight-laced girl in high school, recognizing Sam’s terrified realization that she doesn’t necessarily want the same things that everyone wants for her.

“That’s something that everyone can relate to, feeling drawn in one direction, but someone is telling them to go in another direction,” Lafferty said.

And the play uses grief as a catalyst for this emotional discovery, as Sam comes to terms with what is important in her life.

“We all think, as humans, we’re gonna live to be 100,” Haynes said. “But, unfortunately, that’s not always reality.”

Haynes’ process for finding Kelly’s character is particularly interesting, as the fact that Kelly has passed on means that she is really playing Sam’s memory of Kelly. Her takeaway?

“Everything’s temporary, until you let it not be. Sometimes, people and things leave you, but you can still keep them in your heart and your mind.”

And so, will Samantha Brown leave the driveway? That is something you’ll have to see for yourself.

“The Mad Ones” runs Feb. 12 to March 12 at Open Stage’s Capital Blue Cross Mainstage, 25 N. Court St., Harrisburg. For tickets, visit



“The Mad Ones”

Feb. 12 to March 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 13 and March 6 at 3 p.m.

The Obstructed View

Feb. 5 at 8 p.m.

Harrisburg Black NewsBeat

with Dr. Kimeka Campbell

Feb. 9 and 23 at 8:30 p.m.

Court Street Cabaret

Feb. 18, 19, 25, and 26 at 9:30 p.m.

Legs Akimbo Presents

“The Heartbreak Cabaret”

Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.


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